White liberals need to stop hand-wringing and tell the truth: This is black children killing black children...
LAST week, the heartbroken family of another young victim returned to their home in Romania after just a few weeks living here in Britain. London, they said, was a dangerous place where ‘terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person you could end up dead’.
Their own son, Beniamin Pieknyi, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was stabbed to death in an East London shopping centre – just one more victim of a vicious urban conflict that has already cost hundreds of lives, five in the past week alone.
This new war has spread to pockets right across the capital, including Tottenham and Wood Green in North London, areas I know well. I grew up a few minutes away and raised my own family in the shadow of nearby Alexandra Palace.
Violence is nothing new. Almost half a century ago, I encountered my own share of knuckle dusters and bicycle chains, and the broken front teeth I see in the mirror are a constant reminder never to drop my guard if I happen – once again – to be facing an enemy with a brick in his hand. But the battles now taking place are different.
The primitive weaponry of my day has been replaced by a lethal armoury of knives, swords, handguns and, occasionally, automatic rifles – some in the hands of children as young as ten.
Three killings have taken place within ten minutes of my own front door this year alone – and shrines have been erected to boys and girls sacrificed in an unwinnable war.
I’m the son of poor immigrants and have no doubt that, were I a teenager today, I too would be caught up in the carnage.
This epidemic of knife crime has not appeared from nowhere. It has been gathering for some time, yet the warnings from me and others were ignored. Even now, the political response has been pathetic, focusing – irrelevantly, in my opinion – on police numbers.
In fact there is no evidence that having bobbies on the beat will deter teenage thugs. The chances of a policeman being on the right corner at t he ri ght t i me are probably less than the same officer being struck by lightning.
But there is plenty that we can do, and urgently.
First we need to be clear about who is dying and who is doing the killing, and we must be honest that there is a racial component to the violence.
The deaths are taking place in the urban semi- ghettos of London, Manchester and other big cities, especially those which have become home to refugees from war zones in Eastern Europe, Africa and elsewhere. Many of these young people have grown up with the extreme violence of modern warfare – rape, beheadings, executions – and are traumatised in a way that is a danger to them and to others unless it is treated.
Membership of a gang brings protection and a sense of belonging and the promise of a slice of the profits of the illegal drugs trade.
So the forlorn attempts by politicians and media to ignore this truth – to avoid ‘stigmatising’ minority communities – has been counterp r o d u c t i v e , a h a n d - wri n g i n g dereliction of responsibility. It might make ‘ r i g h t - o n ’ whit e liberals feel better. But the price of their smugness is an ongoing bloody massacre of black children with a casualty list that seems to lengthen by the day.
To tackle it, we urgently need a combination of sticks and carrots – the first to stem the tide of death, the second to radically change the conditions in which the violence grows.
We need to stop the blood flowing by following the example of the American police and identifying the high-risk zones, based on data from police, hospitals and schools. Police should be empowered to flood these areas, using stop-andsearch powers as freely as they wish. I ndeed, t hey should be empowered with new laws similar t o anti- t error l egislation t hat allows detention of the gang leaders who may not wield the knives but give the orders.
If the head of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, is right and hi-tech tools will boost detection rates, then fretting about privacy from people whose families are in no danger should be ignored. In areas where the gangs are primarily black or from another ethnic group, police might even be permitted to apply for exemption from race discrimination laws for a limited period. This could free their hands to act against specific targets – and few would be more pleased than minority parents who constantly worry that their children may never come home.
To protect people’s rights, every officer should be fitted with a bodyworn camera, which should ensure that such operations are carried out fairly and with respect.
At the same time, we need to disrupt the supply of fresh youngsters entering the cycle of death. Instead of spending yet more energy and cash on pointless campaigns against social media ‘ hate crimes’, we should offer families at risk new homes outside the area.
An imaginative education department might consider funding the schooling of bright young boys or girls in danger of joining a gang at a boarding school far from the estate where they grew up.
It’s no accident that Tottenham MP David Lammy, who grew up next to the notorious Broadwater Farm estate, got to university with the help of a music scholarship to a school outside London.
There must be a range of ‘carrots’ or incentives, also. Why not offer young professionals a good reason to live in the areas where the gangs operate. It has been shown in America that changing the ethnic and social mix significantly reduces the presence of drug dealers and pimps, and undermines the grip of gang culture on the streets.
We could offer a long council tax ‘holiday’ to people moving into a high-risk zone, coupled with some strong regulation to stop mortgage companies refusing to operate in the areas at risk.
Prisons are another front line in this war, places where the gangs consolidate their control over captive young men. Currently, the authorities appear powerless to prevent the murderous conflict we see on the streets playing out behind bars also. Prison governors need fresh powers to ship out key gang members, whether black, white, Pakistani Muslim or godless Eastern European.
And in the end, we need to persuade young men that this isn’t a normal way of life.
Right now, few employers will take the risk of hiring someone with a conviction.
There are exceptions, including John Timpson, owner of the Timpson shoe repair shops, and London businessman Iqbal Wahhab, who has mentored several former gang members to business success. Their example must be followed.
Above all we must name the problem for what it is, if we are to stem this vicious tide. Handwringing helps no one.
We are already too late for the family of Beniamin Pieknyi.
40 years ago I faced fa knuckle dusters d and bicycle chains. Today it’s knives, swords rds and guns s
The crimewave is taking t place in semi-ghettos s – especially those now home me to refugees from om war zones s
Three murders this year within ten minutes of my front door – shrines mark where the boys fell